Iran said Tuesday that a team of United Nations nuclear inspectors visiting since the weekend had concluded “constructive and positive” talks with Iranian officials, with further discussions planned at an unspecified date.
The Iranian appraisal of the talks, reported by the semiofficial Fars News Agency, said nothing about what was discussed or seen by the inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency in their three-day visit. Part of their aim was to discuss the agency’s concerns, as stated in its November report about Iran, that some Iranian nuclear work seemed military in nature.
The tone of the Iranian description of the visit suggested that Iran, which has previously called the agency a stooge of American bullying, was seeking to portray itself as flexible and accommodating to the inspectors in the face of the tightening vise of Western sanctions over the country’s nuclear program.
On Monday, Iran’s foreign minister even invited the team members to stay longer, and it was unclear why they did not.
“The atmosphere of the talks was constructive and positive,” Fars said, quoting an unidentified person. It said both sides had “reached agreement on the continuation of these talks.”
Gill Tudor, a spokeswoman for the energy agency, based in Vienna, declined to comment.
Iran’s nuclear program has become the most urgent issue confronting relations between Iran and Western powers, who have accused Iran of working toward the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Iran’s leaders have said the nuclear program is designed to enrich uranium fuel for peaceful energy and medical purposes.
There had been some expectation prior to the team’s visit that Iran would seek to prolong the discussions as part of what some Western diplomats have called a pattern of delaying and extending negotiations to buy time while its nuclear engineers enrich more uranium. Israel has hinted that it may preemptively attack suspected enrichment sites in Iran if it concludes that Iran has reached the capability to build nuclear weapons.
American and European officials have expressed hope that four rounds of United Nations sanctions, coupled with tough measures by the United States and the European Union to restrict Iran’s financial system and oil exports, will persuade the Iranians to stop or slow uranium enrichment. Iran has vowed to never relinquish what it considers its legal nuclear autonomy.
In a sign that the sanctions could tighten further, United Against Nuclear Iran, a New York-based advocacy group that has successfully promoted other economic penalties against Iran, said it had started a campaign to publicize Iran’s dependence on the global financial telecommunication network that nearly every financial institution uses to conduct business.
On Monday the group sent a letter to the network, the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, known as Swift, warning it to end all relations with Iran’s central bank and “deny access to all Iranian banks.” The letter asserted that Iran’s membership in the network already violated American and European financial sanctions as well as Swift’s own rules.
There was no immediate comment to the letter from either Iran or Swift, which is headquartered in Belgium.
Mark D. Wallace, president of United Against Nuclear Iran, said in a telephone interview that the group might seek Congressional hearings on Iran’s Swift membership, which he described as crucial to the country’s economic survival.
“This campaign has the potential to force action,” Mr. Wallace said. “In some ways it’s a silver bullet. If the Iranians don’t have access to Swift, they can’t get access to revenue.”